When I travelled to Lapland at the occasion of the Inari Camera Borealis festival, I also guided a few guests to see and photograph the Aurora. On 18 November, we went chasing the Northern Lights around Inari with my French guest Claire. The weather was quite bad in Saariselkä where Claire was staying, but the forecast was more optimistic further north around Inari. So off I drove from Inari, where I was staying myself, down to Saariselkä to pick her up.
First stop at the TV tower…
… which means driving all the way back to Inari, my starting point. Yes, that’s what I commit to do for my guests when the conditions require it!
I always love to stop there. When the sky is clear, you get a panoramic view on Lake Inari, which is a real treat. It is also a nice vantage point to see where the clouds are coming from or where they are going. When we arrived at the summit, the sky was almost completely clear, except to the south, which we don’t really mind when we go hunting the Northern Lights.
The Aurora forecast was not very strong that day, so we just started with what I describe as a regular view of the Northern Lights. It is not strong or fancy, but you can clearly see the sky glow, and sometimes the glow intensifies, and moves.
Moving around is the key
The clouds started becoming a bit too threatening to my taste, and the Aurora remained quite weak, so I decided to move to another location. I should say, one of my very favourite locations: the bridge on the Kettujoki River.
As soon as we stopped, I noticed something rather unusual in the sky. Would that be the famous Steve that everybody has been speaking about, but that I had never met before?
After parking the car there between the trees, we walked towards the bridge that you may have already seen many of my pictures. I told Claire that “I have a good feeling right now” when seeing this band shoot up right above the bridge.
So, do you believe me now with the “sure sign”?
We stayed for a long hour on the bridge with gorgeous Aurora dancing all around us. Eventually the clouds started pouring in, and the Northern Lights were fading.
Time to drive home
With these clouds it started to look quite bad for the rest of the evening. So we packed our gear and headed to the car. When driving towards the main road leading to Inari, Ivalo and Saariselkä, the clouds seemed to get thinner and eventually disappear! So instead of turning right towards Saariselkä, where I knew it was totally clouded, I decided to check out the situation further north in the direction of Utsjoki.
It did not take long to find again some clear sky. And what a good idea that we stopped there. Just look at this!
If you look closely on the photo above, you see that the horizon (which is north there) is covered with clouds. Again, I managed to find just the place with a clear sky! And the Aurora kept going and was all around us: not easy to choose where to look and which direction to point the camera!
One more before really heading home
The clouds kept coming closer to us, and we had to drive 1.5 hour back to Saariselkä (followed by 1 more hour for me to get back home). So it was time to take a last look at the Aurora before it disappeared behind these clouds.
Hunting the Northern Lights in Inari in November is not a bad idea after all
I usually don’t travel to Lapland in November, because I am too afraid that the weather will not really cooperate. However, it was really not that bad, and there were many such nights with beautiful Northern Lights displays there in Inari. I did not even have to drive so many kilometres.